New Zealand Government Announces Gambling Harm Rules

New Zealand Government Announces Gambling Harm Rules

Aussie governments have gambling venues in their crosshairs, and New Zealand is the latest government to impose new rules on gambling venues. On Friday, news broke about new rules for gambling operators targeting venues that operate pokies.

The new rules look to minimise gambling harm and look to make pokies less visible in venues offering pokies. Also, operators that fail to comply with these regulations will face stiff penalties.

NZ Government Announce New Gambling Harm Reduction Rules

On Friday, the New Zealand government revealed new rules for pokies operators that intend to reduce gambling harm across the country. Lawmakers have been working on these new rules for a while, including a public comment period held back in April.

The ultimate result is new rules that target pokies and the harm they potentially cause players. Below is a highlight of some of the new rules:

  • Venues must hold mandatory training annually for all staff interacting with gamblers. This ensures venues are adequately training staff to identify problem gambling.
  • Regulations pertaining to steps venues must take to help identify problem gambling. This includes regularly sweeping areas and also making notes of problem gambling.
  • Two rules that pertain to venue design. These will help staff to adequately monitor ATMs. Also, the new rules will require pokies to be less visible at venues.
  • Addition of new infringement offenses. These will penalize operators who fail to comply with the new rules.

New Rules to Be Enacted Quickly

If you play at venues offering pokies, you can expect these new rules to be enacted quickly. Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti believes that venues will begin implementing these rules sometime in the first half of 2023.

Minister Tinetti commented, “The changes focus on reducing harm caused by pokies, which can affect both those people gambling and their whānau. In short, they would make the ‘host responsibility’ requirements on pokie venues clearer, stronger, and more enforceable.”

She continued, stating, “Pokies are known to be the most harmful form of land-based gambling in Aotearoa, so I’m really pleased we are making progress with strengthening the harm minimisation rules.

These changes will help make sure that pokies venues are identifying and acting upon harmful gambling consistently and more often.

They have been designed to be realistic to implement for the Class 4 gambling sector. I have also asked that the Department of Internal Affairs work with sector representatives, where appropriate, on some of the implementation details of the changes.

I want to thank everyone who provided their feedback on the public discussion document. The submissions were invaluable in developing and informing the final changes.”

Will the New Rules Help?

The big question is whether these new rules will help curtail problem gambling at pokies venues. Some new rules are likely to have little impact. For example, making pokie machines less visible will not impact those already playing pokies. They will simply adapt to the new location.

The success of these new rules will lie with the staff at the venues. These new regulations also place increasing pressure on staff to watch for and identify problem gambling. How successful venues become will be based on the quality of training as well as staff determination.

Of course, the new penalties looming over operators may force venues to be more diligent to avoid massive fines or the possibility of losing pokies business. New Zealand’s new rules are just another example of governments tightening down on the gambling industry. Other states imposing similar measures include Tasmania, which recently instituted pre-commitment cards. Also, Queensland is implementing facial recognition technology. Only time will tell if these new measures will have a noticeable impact on problem gambling in Australia.

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